One morning you wake up and find a niggling pain on your breast. Underneath the skin lies a lump, which could be benign or malignant, but needless to say, it’s enough to drive your thoughts towards that dreaded word – cancer. The history of the Breast Cancer Awareness month dates back to 1985 when in October, the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries joined forces to implore women to do their mammogram – a test that helps in establishing whether one has breast cancer or not.
Bearing this in mind, the month is a rather important one for India, too. Recent statistics point to breast cancer being one of the highest ranked forms of cancer among Indian women. According to the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25.8 per 100,000 women are affected by breast cancer at a mortality rate of 12.7 per 100,000 women. The breast cancer projection for India believes that by 2020, the number could go as high as 1,797,900.
To the layman, breast cancer is often associated with an unexpected painless lump that can be big or even as small as a pea. They could be painful, too, with the lump growing into a tumour and if malignant, the cells can grow into the surrounding tissues and metastasize to distant areas of the body. The cells can affect any part of the body, making it cancerous and spread to other areas, too.